6.4 Providing search results to review authors

Most Groups will provide authors with the results of the searches for their reviews. Some will provide the raw results from each database searched, others will deduplicate them, while others will put the results into Studies and References in RevMan and provide the author with a text file of these records as well.

It is good practice to record and track what is sent to authors, because this information is needed to create study flow diagrams. It is also essential to know what was searched and to which dates when you come to update the search. There are various methods by which this can be done e.g. some groups are able to track what is sent to authors using their Register.

The Cochrane Register of Studies provides several author-friendly options for delivering sets of search results. From within the CRS, a CIS can mark a group of records and send them to the contact author via email. The author follows a link in that email which allows them to pick up the records in RevMan format, for direct import into their review. The CRS can then keep track of the date and what happened with these results, i.e. whether authors included them in the review.

This method of working is not appropriate for all Cochrane groups, so records can also be sent via the CRS in RIS format, so that records can be imported into the author’s reference management software (i.e. ProCite, EndNote, Reference Manager), or into Covidence, the Cochrane author support tool. The CRS will track which references or studies have been sent to which author for which review and will exclude any duplicated records in future search updates. Records can also be sent via the CRS in a Word document or text file.

  • If you are running searches on a number of databases and sending to the authors for them to screen, then you would (where possible) export the search results from each database in RIS format.
  • Some CISs will put search results in their own reference management software and do some deduplication (removal of any duplicate records) before they send the results to authors. This will depend on which databases you are searching.

6.4.1 Tracking searches

It is important to keep a note of the date you searched each database, the number of records retrieved and the number of records sent to authors to screen. The platform used to access the database (e.g. Ovid, or Embase.com) should be recorded, along with the issue number of the resource, or period the search covered. The search strategy should also be carefully documented, as all search strategies need to be reported in the completed review in accordance with MECIR search reporting standards (pages 45-46).